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The One Ring - The Darkening of Mirkwood $39.99 $22.99
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/04/2016 11:51:37

In the original Loremaster's Book an epic campaign called The Darkening of Mirkwood was outline: here it is presented with a wealth of detail, year by year events to enable you to have a coherent time-line of events running irrespective if you want your campaign plot to interact with them or not - a fine way to ensure that your players feel that their characters exist within a living, breathing, real alternate reality!

The Introduction provides a lot of useful material, including notes on how news travels across Middle Earth (slowly...), and how this timeline has been established to set the scene for the events in The Lord of the Rings - remember, this game is set between events in The Hobbit and those of The Lord of the Rings. The focus here is on how the sweep of events affects those caught up in them, in particular the player-characters and those they care about, putting a human (or hobbit, dwarven, elven...) face on world-shaping events. Yet it may be that the histories are wrong. Maybe things didn't quite happen as it is said that they did. Perhaps some heroes stood up and by their actions changed things. Don't be afraid to alter the course of history as appropriate to the actions of your company of adventurers or indeed the needs of the stories you want to tell. The company are, after all, the heroes of your game, the stars at centre stage whatever else might be going on in the world.

There are rules for establishing and running a holding - something many character might wish to do... and this also provides them a place to defend when darkness comes a-knocking. For those living in the Wilderland, it's a real and present threat that is only going to get worse as time progresses. So encourage the characters to embed themselves in the community, build up networks of friends and relatives, trading partners and associates... all the more will they feel the threat as events unfold.

And then we move on to the tale of years, which is broken down into five phases beginning with the last good years. The timeline runs from the year 2947 for a full thirty years. For each year you get a selection of events, noteworthy things that happen in Mirkwood and the lands immediately surrounding it... or even further away, but which influence life there or at least will have been heard about by those living there. It's up to you whether or not you want to incorporate them into your plotline or use them as side-adventures, or merely leave them as topics to be discussed over a pot of ale.

Next there's a complete sample adventure. As the years progress, it is likely that these adventures will need to be customised, as things your company has done in the past may be already altering the timeline from that published here. There's also information that may influence the course of the year-end Fellowship Phase, although this gets harder to predict as time passes and adventurers' actions affect the timeline, for better or for worse.

The overall idea is that you and your company will build a solid history of your own, one that encompasses the feel of a real life being led, a life that has adventure in it to be sure, but one which is rooted in its surroundings and the ordinary lives led by most of the people who live there. As such this work is an admirable resource and should help you build a lasting campaign that will be fun to play and memorable for years after.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
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The One Ring - The Darkening of Mirkwood
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